Sophia Hewitt-Bailey – Lewiston

Sophia standing in her shop

Photo Credit: Chris Bennett

40 Stories for 40 Years – Profilee 36

For a number of years, Sophia had a dream to open a store offering Caribbean food products in Maine. “I wanted to start a business because I saw a need for specific products. The products were not available in the Lewiston/Auburn area, or anywhere in Maine,” she says. She and others would have to travel to Boston or New York to get the items that reminded them of their life in other countries. In 2016, she was in-between jobs. This is when she seized the opportunity to start her business.

Sophia knew that the first step towards her goal was to write a business plan. She had written a business plan in college and told herself, “I can do this.” Then, she realized that she needed help with developing financial statements, she found New Ventures Maine and registered for the upcoming Venturing Forth class.

Sophia standing behind her cash register She started the class with the goal of developing a solid business plan. “During the class, I gained business knowledge and a better idea of how to manage my business. When the class concluded my goal was to open a store within six months and to have a sustainable, solid, operating business within four years. Now, Caribbean Life Grocery and Gifts has been in operation for two years and I am well on the path to reaching my four-year goal,” she shares.

There have been challenges and joy along the way. At first it difficult for Sophia to find the right location and to meet the requirements of a commercial loan. However, she overcame these challenges and was able to open her first store! She explains, “One of my biggest joys during this process was the confidence I gained by knowing that I had the support of NVME, and the backing of other organizations, such as the Maine Small Business Development Centers and Community Concepts Finance Corp.”

Sophia’s advice to others is “before you start a business take the Venturing Forth class. In addition to providing education on business planning, it opened doors to make connections with other business resources.”

Sophia recently started another business with her husband in the Freeport Public Market, called Jeff’s Jamaican Cuisine. It is a small food kiosk that offers homestyle Caribbean dishes. Her goal is to open a larger restaurant in the future to continue sharing the Caribbean Life.

ClassDateProgram AreaLocationRegion
Business Success- Introduction to Self Employ2021-02-04 February 04, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Introduction to Self-Employment2021-02-09 February 09, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningStatewide
Business Success- Introduction to Self Employ2021-02-09 February 09, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningStatewide
Business Success- Values + Mission2021-02-11 February 11, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Business Success- Values + Mission2021-02-16 February 16, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningMidcoast
Business Success- Your Marketing Strategy2021-02-18 February 18, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Work for Yourself@50+2021-02-18 February 18, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningStatewide
Business Success- Your Marketing Strategy2021-02-23 February 23, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningStatewide
Business Success- Getting Your Business Onlin2021-02-25 February 25, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Business Success- Getting Your Business Onlin2021-03-02 March 02, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningStatewide
Business Success- Pricing Strategies2021-03-04 March 04, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Business Success- Pricing Strategies2021-03-09 March 09, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningStatewide
Tax Readiness for the Self-Employed2021-03-10 March 10, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Business Success- Bookkeeping Solutions2021-03-11 March 11, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Business Success- Bookkeeping Solutions2021-03-16 March 16, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningStatewide
Work for Yourself@50+2021-03-18 March 18, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Business Success- Projecting Cash Flow2021-03-18 March 18, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Business Success- Projecting Cash Flow2021-03-23 March 23, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningStatewide
Introduction to Self-Employment2021-03-24 March 24, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningStatewide
Business Success- Using Your Business Financi2021-03-25 March 25, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Business Success- Using Your Business Financi2021-03-30 March 30, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningStatewide
Business Success- QuickBooks- Is it right for2021-04-01 April 01, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Business Success- QuickBooks- Is it right for2021-04-06 April 06, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningStatewide
Grow Your Business Online LIVE!2021-04-07 April 07, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Business Success Series (AM)2021-02-04 February 04, 2021
(ends April 08, 2021)
Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Business Success- Tax Readiness2021-04-08 April 08, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE DaytimeStatewide
Business Success- Tax Readiness2021-04-13 April 13, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningCentral
Business Success Series (PM)2021-02-09 February 09, 2021
(ends April 13, 2021)
Start a BusinessONLINE EveningStatewide
Work for Yourself@50+2021-04-15 April 15, 2021Start a BusinessONLINE EveningStatewide
Grow Your Business Online2021-01-12 January 12, 2021
(ends April 16, 2021)
Start a BusinessONLINE AnytimeStatewide